All I Survey

By Matt "Talon" Kirkby

    "At long last," Megatron gloated, "I have returned to Earth as a mighty conqueror," he threw his arms wide, "and I can now proudly proclaim myself lord of all that I survey!" He stood silently, arms outstretched, for several moments.
    "Perhaps," Terrorwing muttered as he vainly attempted to shake thick brownish mud from his black-armoured foot. "But I still see nothing so spectacular about this particular world."
    "Oh, on its own, Earth is very much insignificant," Megatron agreed in his normal tones as he turned to face his old comrade, "but the last twenty years—or quarter Vorn if you prefer to measure time by Cybertronian standards—have given it surprising importance in the Cybertronian Wars. Autobot and Decepticon alike have suffered and survived on this world...and now, after so many battles, so many sacrifices, I have staked my claim!" He smiled. "It feels good to say that."
    "Mighty One, incoming alert from aerial scouts." Soundwave sounded calm as he relayed reports from Buzzsaw and Laserbeak. "Human military forces are advancing on this location."
    "So let them come...let them struggle in a valiant and doomed effort against our might, then they will not feel shamed by my assumption of global domination." Megatron chuckled as Terrorwing muttered under his breath. "I welcome the challenge!" he snapped. "The fleshings cannot stand against us! Let this be yet another example of that simple fact!"
    The whine of jet engines filled the air.
    "I think that you will soon gain an opportunity to overcome the challenge of fleshlings who cannot stand against us." Terror-wing glanced upwards. "Defensive positions!" he snapped to the Legionnaires who had accompanied him to Earth. Though he doubted the natives could cause much harm to the Decepticons, he'd take no chances. 'Having Meaatron slain while under my protection would shame the Legion for all time,’ he thought grimly.
    "There they are, Commander!" Firestrike transformed to his tank mode and raised his twin laser barrels skyward. The other Legionnaires also raised their weaponry.
    Megatron studied the five approaching jets, "Blow them out of the sky," he commanded, almost disdainfully. His shoulder-mounted protofusion cannon fired and the lead Jet blew apart.
    Terrorwing fired his arm-mounted disrupter skyward. The rest of his Legionnaires began firing as well.
    The two surviving Human jets launched missiles and fired with their machine guns.
    Terrorwing cursed as one of his Legionnaires was struck by half a dozen missiles and blown into dozens of pieces. "They are valiant foes!" he said over the sound of weapons' fire.
    Ravage snarled.
    Soundwave stiffened, "Megatron, ground troops to the west!"
    Megatron turned his attention to the west. Looming out of a copse of short pines, a dozen humanold mechanoids were steadily approaching the Decepticons. "Iron Guards," he said with a grin. "Excellent," Overhead, the last Human jet exploded as Laserbeak attacked. "Decepticons, destroy them!"
    The Iron Guards scattered as the Decepticons opened fire on them, some taking cover between trees and boulders, others racing forward, and all of them firing their own weaponry in reply.
    Soundwave moaned as a laser sliced into his leg. He toppled to the ground and Rumble and Frenzy provided covering fire for him. Ravage and Overkill charged the HeadMaster who had fired and tackled him, slicing into his armour with their claws.
    Megatron laughed as bullets from one of the Guards' machine guns bounced from his armoured torso. "Foolish creatures!" he boomed. "Strike at me and realize the futility of attacking Megatron!" His shoulder-mounted proto-fusion cannon fired and the hapless Guard exploded.
    Terrorwing fired at one Guard, then punched another who had slipped into close-range. The HeadMaster blocked the punch, then struck back. "Good, I like the honour of mech-to-mech combat." Terrorwing punched the HeadMaster again. "Fight well, and gain honour by your deeds!" Another punch sent metal shards flying as the Guard stumbled backwards.
    "Incoming!" Firestrike shouted. Then he screamed as a bright particle beam vaporized most of his body.
    "Defend yourselves!" Megatron bellowed as more particle beams strafed the battlefield. He saw two Legionnaires and three Iron Guards blown apart immediately, then he spotted the incoming fightercraft. "Disciples!" he shouted, recognizing their designs from reports from Decepticons in Asia. "Forget the Humans!" he ordered. "Attack the Disciples!" Arming his cannon, he fired at the lead fighter.
    "I don't believe this!" Terrorwing downed his HeadMaster opponent with a final punch. "Have they no honour?" Without waiting for an answer, he transformed to cannon-mode. "Ambushing us while we're in combat with the Humans...they are worse than Autobots!" He mentally aimed his barrel, finished the charging cycle, then fired a disrupter bolt.
    The fightercraft disintegrated.
    "They aren't so tough!" Terrorwing scoffed as metallic debris finished crumbling into dust. He took aim on a second fighter. "Their molecules shatter as easily as any foe I've yet fought!"
    With shimmers of light, over a score of humanoid mechanoids appeared on the battlefield.
    "You were saying?" Megatron prompted as he punched a Disciple who materialized beside him.
    Terrorwing shot down another fighter before replying. "They are a challenge, but they possess no true honour." Transforming to robot-mode, he took a punch to his face without flinching. "Allow me to show you the proper method of hand-to-hand combat." His punch knocked the Disciple's head module clean off. "And they cannot even fight properly!" he sounded scandalized. "I would not waste my time with them."
    "We don't have much choice!" a Legionnaire muttered as he shot two Disciples with a hand pistol. Then a particle beam burned through his torso.
    "The Humans have fled," Soundwave reported from where he sat on the grass. "They will no doubt regroup and attack again. I am unable to contact the Dark Glory to request reinforcements." He fired his rifle as he spoke. At his side, Rumble and Frenzy added fire from their own weapons to keep him covered.
    "Keep trying." Megatron shot another Disciple, then ducked a return shot. "They might lack Terrorwing's sense of honour, but they certainly fight with tenacity." But their identical forms were way to tell any individuals apart. "If they are individuals," he mused aloud noting the blank look of their blue optic sensors.
    "This is not combat, but a slaughter." Terrorwing allowed his disgust to be heard clearly, "If not for their numbers, they would be no threat." He kicked one Disciple, then blasted two more with his disrupter cannon.
    "But they have those numbers!" Rumble complained.
    The whine of engines filled the air as fresh jets arrived. Two of them strafed the battlefield, striking down any Disciples who still stood separate from the Decepticons. The other two engaged the Disciple fightercraft with a fierce barrage.
    "Do you require some assistance, Commander?" a voice crackled over Megatron's comlink.
    "About time, Face." Megatron grinned. "I was afraid we wouldn't have enough of them left to share with late arrivals."
    "No fear of that," Skywarp muttered. "These mechanoids are popping up all over the planet."
    "More shooting, less talking!" Terrorwing suggested. "A fresh wave approaches." He could see the gleam of teleportation beams delivering still more enemies to the battlefield. "Is there no end of them?" he muttered.
    "No mercy!" Megatron bellowed as a laser clipped his right shoulder. "Obliterate them!" His protofusion cannon destroyed two Disciples in one blast.
    "Let's shake things up a bit," Rumble suggested. He and Frenzy adjusted their arms into pile-drivers and began pounding the ground.
    The groundquake sent friends and foes alike reeling.
    "You're not helping!" Megatron shouted at them.
    "Well excuse us!" Frenzy fired his pistol and blasted the head module from a Disciple who was trading shots with Soundwave.
    Several of the Disciples who had lost their footing during the quake now transformed into tanks. Their weaponry blazed at the scattered Decepticons and fierce explosions sent dirt and body parts fountaining into the air.
    Terrorwing took note of his dwindling Legionnaires even as he disintegrated a tank. "Unless we can achieve a victory soon, Mighty One, a withdrawal might be in order."
    "I don't like ordering retreats." Megatron hastily counted the number of Disciples still functional as compared to his own troops. "But fighting to the death here will serve no useful purpose," he added as a nearby explosion pelted him with dirt.
    "So glad that you agree!" Terrorwing charged. "Let's try a new tactic!" He grabbed the main cannon of a Disciple tank and —with much grunting—hefted the tank into the air. With another grunt, Terrorwing swung the tank around and crashed it into one of its companions. Both tanks went' tumbling across the ground.
    With the scream of stressed engines, a red-and-silver jet dropped out of the clouds. Its wing-mounted lasers flashed and Disciples died in fiery explosions.
    Even as he cheered the Disciples' deaths, Megatron stumbled as one laser bolt nicked his leg. "Who is that?" he demanded, glaring up at the mystery fighter.
    "Unknown," Soundwave replied, from where he still lay on the ground. "He does not respond to my hails." The jet's form did seem familiar though. A fresh burst of laserfire distracted him from pursuing that thought.
    Terrorwing fired his disrupter at a cluster of Disciples, smiling as their bodies crumbled into dust—though disturbed by their dying without even a single moan!—then he turned to face Megatron with a fierce smile. "The enemy have been eliminated," he announced proudly. "The victory is yours."
    "Indeed." Megatron studied the smoke-stained battlefield, noting his warriors helping their injured comrades and finishing off enemy survivors before they could teleport to safety as several of them had already done. "Good timing, Face."
    The Decepticon jets had transformed to their robot-modes and approached their commander with pleased smiles. "I thought so," Face replied calmly.
    "Your mission was a success?"
    "Sufficiently so, Commander. Our preliminary strike against the research factory went well, though the overall defense of the installation proved stronger than we anticipated. Then, while on our way to this rendezvous, we engaged Disciple fightercraft."
    "I noted your seeming knowledge of their vulnerable points. Good work, Skywarp. You too, Dirge." Megatron took more note of the blue/black mechmnoid standing beside Face. "And who is your new companion? Another of Galvatron's remnants?"
    "This is Talon...a survivor of Autobot City who now wishes to join our ranks," Face smiled at Megatron's suspicious expression at the explanation. "I believe he can be trusted to serve us faithfully." He nudged Talon. "He has several tricks."
    Talon's head disconnected and transformed, "Hail, Megatron," Kirkby said, hiding his nervousness with bravado.
    "A fleshling? He's a Headmaster?" Megatron's red optics narrowed dangerously. "I suspect that his origins are not entirely of Autobot designs."
    "Perhaps not," Face replied calmly, "but he should not be cast aside simply because of whoever built him. He has already demonstrated his skills in battle for you."
    Skywarp nodded at Megatron's questioning glance.
    Soundwave limped across the field to stand at Megatron's left side, his numerous Recordacons hovering around him protectively. "Face is correct, Commander. HeadMasters do possess certain tactical skills and enhanced abilities which could be of great use to our cause." He forebore mentioning how effective the Iron Guards, Avengers, and Steel Shields had proven in battle against the Decepticons thus far.
    Megatron paused, studying Talon and his Human partner, "I will give the matter due thought," he replied at last, "though I feel a certain distaste regarding any merger with fleshlings." Using them as a slave race was one thing, but actually merging minds with one? He shuddered. He turned his attention to the lone jet still circling above them. "And you, unknown warrior, fired on me!" he bellowed.
    The last jet banked and then transformed and landed on the ground. "I couldn't pass up the opportunity!"
    Soundwave's optic band flashed.
    Megatron's optics widened at the high-pitched, and distinctly feminine, voice. "Starscream?" he gasped as he studied the purple-highlighted bodyshell. "Is that you?"
    "Of course. Who else?" Starscream replied with a grin. "I'd say that it's nice to see you once again, Megatron, but I'm of two minds on that subject."
    "Uh-oh," Kirkby muttered.
    Skywarp and Dirge opened their mouths, but Face waved them to silence. "You are not feeling like yourself, Starscream? Perhaps I can—"
    "Spare me the pop psychology!" Starscream protested. "It irritates me almost as you do."
    "Starscream, I thought you were dead." Skywarp held out a hand. "You got shot down in Autobot City."
    "But I'm feeling much better now." Starscream took a couple of steps forward. "You see, I was once a proud Decepticon air commander who skillfully led troops into battle...until my rather untimely demise." She smiled. "But, to my immense surprise, I was reborn with a few new abilities, provided by the Humans." An energy bolt streaked from his arm-mounted rifle and the two tanks Terrorwing had smashed earlier exploded. Then her head popped loose from her shoulders and dropped to the ground, transforming as it fell. "Well, Director?" the Human said in a challenging tone. "Do I meet all of your criteria now?"
    Kirkby's eyes bulged. "Gwen?"
    "Surprised, aren't we?" The red-haired woman smiled at his startled expression. "I watched the operation from your office," she explained, "over the security camera." She eyed him closely. "I saw everything—and I do mean everything—" her gaze was openly lustful, "and after you left Camelot so abruptly, I simply had to come after you," She shrugged. "As you can see, I can do a lot more than answer vid-phones and make herbal tea." Her eyes narrowed. "A few basic alterations to your own Mordred computer program, and I gained control of this—" she brushed a hand over Starscream's leg, "—tasteful bodyshell." She giggled.
    Megatron glanced at Terrorwing. "Why do I feel that I am missing part of the story?"
    "Gwen, this is hardly—"
    "Oh, this is the perfect time, Director! You've used the Project! For your own gain, and then you left me behind!"
    "It was just business—"
    "Spare me your protests!" she shrieked. "You betrayed me and the Project!" Her tone dropped to a near-whisper, "How could you do that?"
    "I'm trying to save the entire planet. The Decepticons—"
    "Are just another means to an end, aren't they? More power, more wealth...and then where does that leave me?" She shook her red hair out of her face. "Well, where does that leave me?" she demanded.
    "Gwen, we can talk about this...."
    "Like we talked about my request to be considered for a body shell!"
    Kirkby recombined with Talon. "You were not suitable for the bonding procedure," he told her coldly. "Your preliminary tests hinted at mental incompatibilities—"
    "I'm not crazy!" Gwen shouted. "You'll see!" She laughed and recombined with her new bodyshell. "You will all see that, I promise!" Her bright gaze locked onto Megatron. "As will you, Mighty Megatron," her voice sounded exactly like Starscream's normal tone, "I will deal with in an appropriate a later date." Transforming to jet-mode, she rocketed skyward, laughing aloud as she did so.
    "I think I may have been too lenient with Starscream in the past," Megatron observed in the silence surrounding Starscream's abrupt departure. "I may have to remedy that in the future."
    Skywarp and Dirge exchanged looks.
    "Meanwhile, Talon," Megetron's gaze locked onto the nervous HeadMaster, "I shall indeed make use of your services. Tell me everything about this little Project of yours." His predatory expression hardened. "And I do mean everything."
    Talon eyed the Decepticons surrounding him and swallowed nervously. His only choice of action was clear.